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Monday September 23, 2013Quotes From Will Muschamp's Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Head Coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to preview the Gators’ upcoming game against Kentucky (7:00 p.m. on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky.).

 

Opening statement:

“Alright just to recap Tennessee a little bit, good team win for us, handled adversity in the game obviously with injuries and different things that happened, some of them self-inflicted wounds that we have to get corrected obviously. Explosives we were plus five as far as getting the ball vertically down the field, nice job of throwing it and catching it and creating some explosive runs as well. Turnovers we were plus three, which was good but we need to eliminate ours; we’ll be hard pressed to have another game with six turnovers. Offensively I thought we were very balanced in the game, I thought we were really good on third down staying on the field, but the balance creates a lot of easier third down conversion situations on down and distance. We averaged 15 yards per completion, which is outstanding, and we didn’t give up and sacks.

 

“Player of the game was Tyler Murphy; again I can’t compliment him enough about how he came in, responded, and handled the situation. We had a lot of confidence in him, he’s really taken a step forward; we thought he had a solid spring and obviously had a great summer, but you know, when you get thrust into the spotlight at the beginning of training camp, and how he responded in that time the confidence began to grow with us as far as him handling the job. He’s improved tremendously as a passer, taking the ball to the right spots. He’s always been a very intelligent guy, a really good athlete; we will not change much of who we are offensively. Obviously like I said after the game, there’s going to be some throws that he likes better than Jeff (Driskel) or whatever the case may be, we’ll structure it that way. But we’re very proud of him, a guy that’s worked through the process of becoming a starter here at the University of Florida. A guy that never complained, and did not handle things the wrong way, he always handled things perfectly. So very happy for him, disappointed for Jeff (Driskel) with the injury, a guy that worked extremely hard to have a great year, and he’ll have surgery on his fibula on Wednesday.

“Big plays of the game, Tyler Murphy of course had several, Trey Burton had one, Loucheiz Purifoy started the game with one, Soloman Patton had a huge play for us and Trey Burton made and outstanding block on the play to get on the edge. And that was a great read by Tyler (Murphy), that’s a run-pass combination, and he saw the leverage of the defender and got the ball outside. And Quinton Dunbar made several big plays in the game. Scrap iron up front, Max Garcia, Jon Harrison and Jon Halapio. Jon (Halapio) was fine, it was not anything wrong with his pec, he got poked in the eye pretty good and he’s got 3 stitches in his eye, he’s going to be fine for this week. But, I tell you what, what a tough young man he is to play through that.

 

“Defensively, very pleased with six turnovers obviously, a fourth down stop means seven changes of possessions while the defense was on the field. But we started the game fast, which was a real challenge coming out of the last game when we didn’t play very well; it’s going to be another key for us going up to Lexington this week. And I thought we affected the quarterback in the game; I know all y’all care about is sacks, but we worry about affecting the quarterback and we did in the ball game; being able to create vertical pressure with four guys in a lot of situations was outstanding, I thought our guys did a great job up front. Player of the game was Dante Fowler, obviously the second play of the game, and then the strip sack down in their territory to set up a score was huge; but a guy that continues to improve, play well, played much better than he did the previous time out, a guy that can be a very disruptive player for us. Ball hawks, we had a bunch, anybody that affected a turnover, whether it’s from a caused interception, caused fumble, recovered fumble, but Darious Cummings, Dominique Easley, Dante Fowler, Jabari Gorman, Damien Jacobs, Marcus Maye, Antonio Morrison, Brian Poole, and Mike Taylor. So all of those guys had something to do with a turnover and that’s outstanding. Hard hat was Antonio Morrison; I thought he had a couple nice plays in the run game, and a nice job on the check-down. But again, defensively, I think we had some eye control issues in the second half in the secondary, and what that means really is just keeping your eyes in the right spots; it’s not necessarily a busted assignment, taking a chance on a couple balls in those situations I wish we would have used better judgment in a couple drives, we certainly have displayed that we can use better judgment in those situations and that’ll be a challenge for our guys moving forward.

 

“Special teams, our specialists need to get better, we’re not very productive at the punter position right now, or at placekicker, we didn’t really affect the game as far as special teams are concerned like we have in our previous time here. Jarrad Davis was the special teams’ player of the week; Jarrad continues to improve, he’s also the scout team player of the week, he works with us half the time defensively preparing for the game and he works to prepare our offense for the next weeks’ game. But a guy that works extremely hard and is going to be a really good football player here. But we need to get better on special teams as far as affecting the game, we have not done that as much, and certainly last Saturday we didn’t have any affect. Defensively, Adam Lane was our scout team player of the week, and special teams was Cody Adams.

 

“As far as the injury front, I kind of hit on Jeff (Driskel) - he’ll have surgery Wednesday, it’s a four to six month recovery, from the surgery, he’ll have a plate inserted in his fibula, which is the non-weight bearing bone in the lower leg. Very disappointed for Jeff (Driskel), it’s part of the game but it’s very difficult to deal with, and I’m really hurt for him and his family and for us as a football team. Leon Orr hurt his shoulder in the game, we expect him to be back Tuesday or Wednesday for practice; he will miss practice today getting treatment. Marcus Roberson ran well yesterday, we’re going to rehab him again and let him run in the pit for us, and then probably get him back on the practice field Tuesday; expect him to play. Valdez Showers is doubtful for the game at this time with his ankle. Jon Halapio should be fine. Loucheiz Purifoy is fine, he ran extremely well yesterday coming off a pretty good hit on the kickoff coverage there when he was returning the ball, but he ran extremely well yesterday and he’s going to practice today. Tyler Moore should be fine for practice on Tuesday; we’re going to hold him today. Colin Thompson showed up yesterday with a stress fracture in his foot, he’ll miss one to two weeks; disappointed for Colin, he was really starting to progress and do well for us, he’s had some issues with his foot but this is a different issue with his foot, but disappointed for him.

 

“On to Kentucky, Mark Stoops is a guy I’ve got a lot of respect for as a defensive coordinator until this year, but does an outstanding job. He hired Neal Brown from Texas Tech, Neal’s a guy I’ve known for a long time, does a nice job of mixing run and pass, creating run-pass issues for you defensively. Up-tempo, they’re wanting to take upwards of 90 snaps in a game, so they’re going to be on the ball constantly getting the look-back, getting the tempo, and all the different things. They’ve got two different quarterbacks, (Maxwell) Smith and (Jalen) Whitlow, guys that are both effective in what they do; one more of a passer and one more of dual threat, so we need to be very cognizant of who’s in the game at the time. Defensively, Ryan Timmons, Demarco Robinson, are a couple receivers that I think are very talented guys as well. So we just have to do a good job as far as them mixing the spread with run and pass, and effectively running the ball to spread you out. And that’s something that they’re going to create a lot of space plays for us, we’re going to need to tackle well in space. Defensively, (Alvin) Dupree is and outstanding end, (Za’Darious) Smith I think is leading the SEC in sacks, so they’ve got two good edge guys that can rush the passer. (Avery) Williamson is a guy that makes a lot of plays for them inside, and again I think Mark (Stoops) is a guy that, he and D.J. Elliot did an outstanding job at Florida State together and they’re playing good redzone defense, good third-down defense, they’re going to be very sound in fundamental and what they do because those guys are outstanding coaches. So we have our work cut out for us, first SEC road game up in Lexington, whatever the streak is it doesn’t matter, it only matters what we do on Saturday afternoon, and that certainly will be reiterated to our players this afternoon when we start our team meeting for Kentucky. ”

 

On backup QB position:

“Skyler Mornhinweg will be taking about one fourth of the reps, like in most backup situations. Skyler (Mornhinweg) will be the backup. Max Staver’s going to move over and work with our offense for preparation of the game. Obviously we’ll have a package for Trey (Burton) and some different things that we’ll be able to go to in the game to take some of the runs off Tyler (Murphy).”

 

On defense getting better:

“Well I think so. I think that any time you watch the tape, in my opinion, you look at plays that you gave up, because of eye control, because of alignment assignment, whatever the case may be. It’s one thing when you’re getting beat physically, it’s another thing when you’re getting beat on something that can be corrected. And that’s what I always try to point out to the players, this is a correctable mistake, this is a mistake that is really because of what they did offensively or because of how we handled it defensively. And I think our players have an understanding of those mistakes, and the correctable mistakes that are made. If it’s a talent issue or a scheme issue, that’s on us. But when we give up a play because we don’t have our eyes in the right spots or we’re guessing on a route, those are things we need to correct, and I think that’s what the players see.”

 

On defensive progress up the middle:

“So far I don’t know that we’ve been truly tested in a two-back sense, as far as a two-back running game. Miami gave us a little bit of it, but I think those guys have to continue to play well. You’re only as good as your next game, and that’s our mentality. We have to understand that whatever we’ve done to this point really doesn’t matter.”

 

On giving credit to Dominique Easley for Dante Fowler’s performance:

“Well you know, I think something that we noticed in the box during the game was that they were turning the protection to Dominique (Easley) inside. As far as where his alignment was, it wasn’t necessarily off the back or off the formation, it was off his alignment. So Brad (Lawing) and D.J. (Durkin) did a good job of changing some things rush wise to create some one-on-ones. When they turn the protection, someone else is one on one so we have to do a good job of making sure we create good one on ones for Dante (Fowler) or Ronald (Powell) or whoever is in that situation. There’s no question Dominique (Easley) commands a lot of attention.”

 

On capability of being completely happy with how the defense plays:

“No. I think, again, that’s something you sit down at the end of the year and you reflect on what you did well and what you didn’t do well. I know in this business how easy you can travel from the outhouse to the penthouse in a second, or the penthouse to the outhouse in a second.”

 

On having a primary running back:

“No. We’re probably going to go with the guy with the hot hand, I think Mack (Brown) has played well, I think he deserves that. And Matt (Jones) needs to continue to come on, and Kelvin (Taylor) needs to continue to come on. Those are the three guys we feel comfortable with at this point.”

 

On problems at punter and placekicker:

“Well I’m going to open it up with Kyle (Christy) and Johnny Townsend has been a guy that’s probably been about as consistent a punter as we’ve had in camp, and we’ll pull the redshirt off Johnny (Townsend) if we need to. We need to get more production at the punter position, and I think that’s what we’ll do. And I think that Austin (Hardin) is in the same situation. I’m going to give Brad (Phillips) some live looks in practice this week and see how he responds.”

 

On if he has plans to take Purifoy off the return team:

“No.”

 

On the throws that Tyler Murphy prefers over Jeff Driskel:

“Just as far as feeling more comfortable with a different concept as opposed to what Jeff (Driskel) felt comfortable with. That’s something that we work throughout the week and we see how he sees the coverage and how he feels with certain throws. He may feel better with routes moving away from him, moving to him, moving across the middle; those are things that we’ve talking about with Brent (Pease).”

 

On how to decide who has the hot hands as running back:

“We really just get in the game and see who’s making the right cuts, who’s getting the ball north and south, who’s making positive yards and who’s maintaining possession of the ball. That guy’s probably going to get the ball a lot.”

 

On the preparations differing this week from last week for Tyler Murphy:

“Certainly being the starter is different. We’d like to sit there as coaches and say that it’s no different and that you’re going to prepare yourself for that one snap that happens, but all the sudden you’re going to be thrust into the action and you’re going to be playing. The quarterback position is different than other positions. Knowing Tyler (Murphy), he won’t approach it any differently from the standpoint of being the starter. He may have a couple more butterflies here and there as far as starting the game, but other than that, he’s a pretty calm, cool, collected guy as you saw on Saturday. He’ll handle it like a champion.”

 

On Tyler Murphy’s demeanor prior to entering the game:

“He was ready for the opportunity. His number was called and he was ready to go. I think he was handling it as well as you could handle it.”

 

On Jabari Gorman and Marcus Maye making big plays on Saturday:

“Those guys were expected to play that way when they got in the game. We don’t expect any drop off when you step on the field. We do a good job, and Travaris Robinson does a great job and doesn’t get enough credit for the job he does with our secondary, as far as making sure those guys are ready to play multiple positions. It’s not about putting the next guy in, it’s about putting the next best player in. If that means moving three guys, then all three of those guys better have repped at the other positions and better have a good enough knowledge base to understand the game plan of what we’re trying to do. You take Cody Riggs, who was the fourth corner for the game and was also the starting safety and the second nickel. Riggs repped every one of those this past week and we did a good enough of job and we’re organized as a staff well enough to know he was ready to play all of those positions and be productive enough for us to win.”

 

On whether Brian Poole would miss the first half against Kentucky:

“Yes, he’ll miss the first half.”

 

On who coaches the kickers:

“Jeff Choate and D.J. Durkin are two of the best special team coaches I’ve ever been around. We didn’t forget how to coach Kyle (Christy) from last year.”

 

On Jon Halapio’s perseverance:

“I wish we had more guys like that. He’s a typical throwback. His pec is mended and he’s playing through a lot of pain, probably. He won’t tell anybody, but I know he is. When he got hurt, I thought it was his pec. I went on the field and I lloked up and he was bleeding out of his eye. He’s one tough customer.”

 

On giving Jon Halapio a break if an opportunity presents itself:

“Possibly. Again, we’ve played a bunch of guys up front because of different injuries and situations that we’ve had, so it’s not about getting somebody else experience at this point. It’s about winning football games. Jon (Halapio) has continued to play and as long as he’s physically able to do so, he’ll do so.”

 

On his expectations of Kelvin Taylor:

“We’ll find out this week how well he practices and prepares for the game.”

 

On things Tyler Murphy can improve on:

“I think he played extremely well. As much as we put on a quarterback, especially in that game because of some of the looks we knew we were going to get as far as the run blocks were concerned, to get us in and out of the right run and to get us out of a run and into a pass was very effective. Obviously ending the game, we should have been able to run the clock out; we could have done that a little better as far as managing that situation. We had one center/quarterback exchange where there was some confusion on the fumbled snap, so there’s some administrative things that we can do better and some procedural things that we can do better. Sometimes in your first start or your first situation in walking out there in that environment, you hate to say it’s to be expected, but you understand those are things we’ve got to correct as we move on, especially to go on the road.”

 

On Matt Jones recovering from the viral infection:

“Football is a developmental game and it takes time, we all knew this going in, it was nothing showing to us. Matt’s got to get in a rhythm and he’s a bigger back and sometimes it takes longer for those guys to get in their rhythm of playing. He’s not playing bad. You can’t switch the hands coming across the middle off of a catch, he knows that. That was a basic fundamental ball security that you can’t violate and he did. It’s not that he’s not running well, he’s just got to be sharper in some of his cuts and taking his eyes to the right spots. We had a couple of busted assignments on protection that we’ve got to get cleaned up. As we continue to move further in the season, he’ll continue to play well.”

 

On Jaylen Watkins’ play at safety:

“I thought he played well. Again, here’s another guy who’s our third nickel, he’s starting safety and he’s our third cornerback going into the game. He’s playing multiple positions. He’s extremely intelligent and can play a lot of things for us. I’ve been very pleased with his play as far as reception area with the ball down the field and for the most part having his eyes in the right spots and knowing what he’s supposed to do and how he’s supposed to play. I thought he tackled well in the game; I thought we tackled well as a unit in the game. I’ve been very please. There’s a lot of communication we’ve put on him and I think he’s done a nice job.”

 

On if he was pleased with the defense: 

“I was very pleased with the first half. We played extremely well. I thought we played a great tempo. We had very good pad level. I was not pleased with how we started the third quarter. We had a 15-yard run come out on us. We were in position to make the play. We’ve got to make the play. We didn’t leverage the ball correctly in the secondary, and the ball spit on the sideline cost us 15 yards. Come up with a third-down opportunity and we jump the route instead of playing with our eyes and doing what we’re supposed to do on third down we’re off the field, and you give you give up a big play. You give up a field goal there. Two drives I was disappointed with. We had eye control issues giving up 10 points and 106 yards. You take that away and you’re feeling a lot better about yourself.”

  

On Dante Fowler not aware that Tennessee had changed quarterbacks: 

“I’d like him to know who the quarterback is. But they do look alike.”

 

 

On whether this will be an emotional week for Joker Phillips: 

“Anytime you spend a lot of time at a place, you have some great memories. I know as a player and coach there, no question it’s going to be emotional about that. Anytime you spend as much time as we spend, hours in the office, working hard for the university, there’s no question that’s part of it.”

 

 On Joker Phillips’ work with the receivers: 

“He’s done an outstanding job. You look at three of our most productive players are Quinton Dunbar, Solomon Patton and Trey Burton. And some young players are developing at the position that I’m pleased with. His production speaks for itself on the tape. Your tape is your résumé as a coach. What you put on tape is who you are. I think he’s done a really good job. He’s been a good addition for us.”

 

 On how Joker Phillips has contributed to the preparation for Kentucky:

“A little bit as far as opinion on personnel. Other than that, schematically, they’re much different offensively, different defensively in what they’re doing in things. Sometimes that stuff can be a little overrated as far as that’s concerned.”

 

 On how tough it is to go on the road and beat Kentucky: 

“There’s no question any time you go on the road, it’s a little different. We try and do everything here Friday as far as our meetings are concerned and our walkthrough. We try not to do anything as far as meeting at night. It’s our first night game. You’re going to have a lot of young players for the first time with a lot of idle time on their hands as opposed to just getting up, eating and going to the stadium and playing, so the older guys I’ll rely on to really help them through that process and understanding. I sit there all week and think about what can go wrong, and that’s one of the things on my mind right now.”

 

 On the 28 game win streak over Kentucky: 

“I don’t really talk about that at all. I just focus on this game, this week, this season, this team, what we need to do to be successful. I don’t think anything in that regard helps or hurts your football team in their preparation.”

 

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